For nearly 20 years I have been blessed to have a good marriage (which seems to be rare). Some of this can be attributed to the fact that my wife and I have learned to fight well. Having also performed marriage counseling for 20 years, I have seen the resulting carnage from marital fights. Learning to fight well is critical for marital success. I am writing this primarily to husbands. For a wife’s perspective, click here.
How to fight with your wife:
1. Remember that the person you are fighting with is the love of your life.
You dated her, you opened the door for her, you came to love her, you bought her a ring, you honeymooned with her. She accepted you. She has sacrificed much for you. She is not your mortal enemy. She is your love.
2. Seek first to understand and then be understood.
Steve Covey wrote about this in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but the Apostle Paul said it a lot earlier in Philippians 2. Paul says to esteem others (your wife) more highly than yourself. Paul says To imitate Jesus and put others (your wife’s) interests before yours.
You will never fight well if you only want to be understood. Do everything you can to try to understand her position as well. A person in a conflict must BE heard and also FEEL heard. Continuing to argue your point without acknowledging your wife’s will never get you anywhere. If your wife shares her point, and then you fire back concerning why you are right, your wife will feel like she has not been heard. She is then unlikely to hear anything you have to say no matter how right you think you are.
Instead, try to listen to her, understand her, and make her feel heard. After she makes her point, repeat back to her (in a positive way) what you’re hearing her say, showing that you understand her point.
Understanding is not necessarily agreeing. But you must hear your wife, and try to understand her point as valid. Seeing yourself as 100% right and her as completely wrong is a losing formula.
3. Don’t plan your response while your wife is talking.
Certainly you have never done this before but just in case you have: Listen while she talks. Don’t interrupt her. Try to understand. Try to empathize.
4. Control your anger.
Is your wife angry? Shouting louder than her is a recipe for disaster. Try to never be angry at the same time. Perhaps your wife needs to blow off some steam. Allow her to do this. Don’t yell back. Don’t put your hands on her. Let her vent. Anger meeting anger leads to domestic violence.
5. Don’t accuse when you speak.
Rather than telling your wife what she is doing wrong, explain what you are feeling. It is hard to contradict how a person feels. Accusing indicates that you believe you are 100% right.
6. Don’t say or do things that you will regret later.
My wife and I have lines that we have agreed to never cross. We have never threatened divorce. We have never called names. We have never physically abused each other in any way. There are things that you can say and do that are hard to come back from. If you have already crossed these lines, then man up, repent to your wife and to God, and commit to never do this again.
An apology is one of the least costly and most important investments you can make in your relationship. Give it a shot. You might be surprised how it helps.
8. Remember that your long-term relationship is far more important than this particular issue.
Are you really willing to permanently damage your relationship over this one issue?
If you have other suggestions to share then please comment and add your insight!
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